New hypertension guidelines mean high blood pressure starts at a reading of 130/80, lower than previous guidelines.
And yet the blood pressure of each of those 28 million people remained unchanged. What happened?
Well, although not a single one of those 28 million individuals had an actual increase in their blood pressure, the standards which define hypertension were lowered. Under the new metrics of blood pressure, what used to be low is now normal. What used to be normal is now high, and what used to be very high now may require immediate hospitalization.
High blood pressure is a very significant problem
Each year about 7.5 million people worldwide die from heart problems caused by high blood pressure. In the United States, hypertension is second only to tobacco among preventable causes of heart attacks.
New blood pressure guidelines
Two weeks ago you might have been happy with your 140/90 blood pressure reading. Then on November 13, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology changed everything. They released new joint diagnostic guidelines.
Now, under the new guidelines, anything above 130/80 is considered Stage I Hypertension. A reading above 140/90 is Stage II Hypertension. Any patient at 180/120 is deemed to need immediate treatment and/or hospitalization.
Reactions from medical professionals
Some doctors are reacting with dismay. The study, although scientifically sound, was based on relatively small samples of participants. They were over 50 years of age, and already predisposed to have cardiac problems. Results showed that 8% of those who maintained systolic blood pressures of 120 to 140 suffered a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke) during the time span covered by the study, while 6% of those with systolic blood pressures of 120 or under suffered such events.
One inevitable result of this new study is that doctors will be striving to help all their patients meet the new standards. This is certain to result in a marked increase in the intake of hypertension medication. Some physicians are apprehensive that the side effects (such as dizziness, perhaps leading to falls by elderly patients) of the medications might be more harmful than hypertension itself.
Most doctors, however, are responding to the new guidelines with what has always been the prescription of choice. For Stage I Hypertension, treatment will continue to focus on lifestyle changes, rather than medication.
Change your lifestyle, not your med load
The authors of the guidelines say that only a small fraction of those who are newly diagnosed with high blood pressure will require medication. Yet all those people will have to start thinking of making lifestyle changes. An increase in exercise, a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and drinking less alcohol remain the tried and true ways to lower your blood pressure. Most folks will need only good lifestyle advise, (and no new prescriptions) from their doctor.
“Lifestyle modification is the cornerstone for treatment of hypertension,” said Dr. Robert Carey of the University of Virginia who helped write the guidelines.
I agree. If lowering the blood pressure bar gets people’s attention on their health, we can save lives. Let me know what you think! Thaïs
Read the full article at: www.nbcnews.com